The strategy was adopted on 13 April by the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), during its 72nd session at the IMO headquarters in London and marks an important milestone for maritime travel that will allow the sector to help work towards the temperature goals outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Maritime travel is currently responsible for 2-3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, dependent on world trade and with a rising tendency.
Following intensive preparation, the committee agreed upon an initial strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 and to ideally phase out greenhouse gas emissions entirely. This would be consistent with the 2015 Paris Agreement temperature goals.
Whilst Europe and a number of Pacific States had striven for a more ambitious level of reduction, the outcome of the negotiations represents a hard fought yet acceptable compromise between the interests of the 173 IMO Member States in order to reach the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.
As is to be expected from multilateral consultations, the agreement is a compromise. Whilst the agreement is less ambitious than the 70-100 percent reduction European and Pacific States strove for, it remains more ambitious than the 50 percent by 2060 goal proposed by several other Member States.
The agreement sends an important signal that a noticeable shift away from fossil fuels lies ahead for maritime traffic and it is expected that by 2030, very few ships powered by fossil fuels will be launched.
The strategy provides a foundation for the future development of internationally binding measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in maritime traffic. Additionally, projects were launched to support energy efficiency in the shipping sector and promote low carbon fuels. Long-term goals include further developing already existing measures to increase the technical and operational efficiency of ships.